Top ac­tor but not wild about Dano’s di­rec­to­rial de­but

The Irish Mail on Sunday - - MORE | FILM -

Paul Dano is a re­spected and pop­u­lar ac­tor, fa­mil­iar to view­ers of TV’s War & Peace adap­ta­tion, where he was a bril­liant Pierre, and to devo­tees of art-house dra­mas such as Youth, 12 Years A Slave and Looper.

So when he makes his de­but as a di­rec­tor, it’s bound to at­tract at­ten­tion, both within and with­out the film in­dus­try. As a re­sult, Wildlife (12A) with a cast led by Jake Gyl­len­haal and Carey Mul­li­gan, feels like one of those films you ex­pect to be bril­liant only to re­alise half­way through that it’s merely okay.

Set in Mon­tana in the early Six­ties, it’s a story of dam­aged male pride, watch­ful teenage anx­i­ety and the lim­ited op­tions open at that time to a woman aban­doned by her hus­band. Gyl­len­haal plays Jerry, a chancer who loses his job and goes off to fight wild­fires in­stead, while Mul­li­gan is Jeanette, who, some­what im­prob­a­bly, be­gins an af­fair with a lo­cal car dealer. Ed Ox­en­bould plays their 14year-old son, who watches pow­er­lessly as his par­ents’ mar­riage falls apart.

Mul­li­gan gives it her best shot in a film in which not enough hap­pens, and Gyl­len­haal’s long ab­sence from the screen is keenly felt.

Over­lord (18) be­gins by look­ing like a rather promis­ing Sec­ond World War film, with vis­ual ef­fects and seat-shak­ing sound de­sign that wouldn’t shame Sav­ing Pri­vate Ryan 2, as a squad of ner­vous Amer­i­can para­troop­ers are flown into France ahead of the D-Day land­ings. Ninety ever-more­bloody and nasty min­utes later, how­ever, it’s be­come an out-and-out hor­ror flick full of su­per­vi­o­lent fights, ghastly Nazi ex­per­i­ments and ca­dav­ers that just won’t die. Only suit­able for bat­tle­hard­ened genre spe­cial­ists and those with a strong stom­ach. Don’t say you haven’t been warned.

Two months ago, Hur­ri­cane – the Bri­tish-made story of the Pol­ish pi­lots who fought so bravely in the Bat­tle of Bri­tain – was re­leased. Now along comes 303 Squadron (12A) – the same story but told by Pol­ish film-mak­ers. Not sur­pris­ingly, this story of heroic der­ring-do has gone down hugely well at the Pol­ish box of­fice. But for all its ex­cel­lent fly­ing se­quences, it is ham­pered by a slightly con­fus­ing time­line.

BEST SHOT: Carey Mul­li­gan in Wildlife

WAR­LORDS: Heroic der­ring-do in 303 Squadron and, be­low, Nazi zom­bies in Over­lord

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